The North East Cross Country Championships, held this year at Durham, are always keenly contested and this year was no different.
Morpeth Harriers achieved a superb first, second and third place in the senior men.
Here’s a extract from the Harrier’s website:
Undoubtedly the best performance on the day came in the Senior Men’s 12k Championship, where the club took all three individual medals, courtesy of Jonny Taylor, who enjoyed his second win in the event, second placed Nick Swinburn, and third placed Carl Avery. Taylor, who took the Championship at Newcastle’s Town Moor in 2014, eventually stole away on the final lap of three very tough circuits, to win by a margin of three seconds from his very hard working clubmate Swinburn, who was seeking his first victory after finishing second to Taylor in 2014, and also second to Sunderland Harrier Mark Hood at Wrekenton in 2008.
Avery, who had finished second to Stockport’s former Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin at a snow-covered Sedgefield twelve months ago, and eighth to Taylor in 2014, was also hoping for individual glory, however he eventually succumbed to the pressure added by his two front running club colleagues, and settled for third place, a further fifty-four seconds adrift.
He had also battled to hold off the early close attentions from Durham City’s Dan Garbutt, himself a former Champion, being a winner at South Shields in January 2013, following a postponement of the 2012 Championships in December 2012, because of adverse conditions.
This event is the anniversary of the start my running career – my duathlon partner Steve Patterson and I first competed in it in 2013 as our inaugural event. We missed the start on that day but we managed to get there in time this year!
I was pleased to finish first in a time of 31m 59s on a difficult and undulating course (with a minor detour when I took the lead runners the wrong way). Steve ran well to finish 13th in 38m 23s. A good day out.
This event is the North East Counties Athletics Association 10K Championships organised by Morpeth Harriers in Tranwell Woods. Carl was second in 2014 and the winner in 2015 so was keen to retain his title, which he did emphatically with a time of 31 minutes and 16 seconds which was 14 seconds faster than last year.
The second placed runner was Abraham Tewelde of Saltwell Harriers who finished 37 seconds behind Carl.
Carl was delighted with the result, both retaining his title and posting a faster time than 2015.
Once again the Coastal Run organised by Alnwick Harriers was a great success with nearly 1000 runners tackling the course from Beadnell to Alnmouth, an unmeasured half marathon. The weather was kind with a mild headwind but not too hot and sunny.
Carl won for the second year running in a great time of 1.13.34, the fastest since 2008 and almost 4 minutes clear of the second placed runner.
My aim over the last year or so ever since I won my first Age Group World title in 2014 was to compete for Great Britain in the elite duathlon team. In 2016 I achieved this and am very proud to have represented my country at the highest level. In order to do this, I first of all had to qualify.
At the start of 2016 I competed in the British Elite Duathlon Championships in Windsor Park, which is held over the sprint distance only. The cycle leg is draft legal so my aim was to stay at the front of the pack on the first run then not get dropped on the cycle leg, and that all went to plan. However the cycle leg was hard and although I was up at the front on the second run I lost ground and finished 5th overall. But on the strength of this performance I was delighted to be selected for the GB Elite squad (of only 2 men, myself and the very experienced Phil Wylie) for the European Championships in Germany later that month.
Again I ran well but struggled on the cycle leg as the draft legal cycling in the elite events is so new to me, especially tactically. I finished 14th in a strong field and learnt a lot. It was a great experience and I know exactly what to work on with my cycling!
After Germany I wasn’t expecting a GB Elite call up again any time soon. So when I got the call to represent GB in the World Duathlon Championships in Spain in June 2016 I was surprised but very pleased to be given another chance. This time there is a team of 5 elite men, namely Richard Horton, Phil Wylie, Danny Russell, Dan Jenkin and myself.
The pace in the individual event was fast and furious. After the first run I managed to stay with the chasing pack in the second cycle group. The second run was a good one and I was delighted to finish 10th and the highest placed in the GB team on the day. The crowds and the support were tremendous – a great event to be part of.
The following day I raced as a member of the GB Elite Mixed Relay team, which included the winner of the women’s elite race the day before, Emma Pallant. We won a silver medal and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The full results are available on the ITU website, click here. There is also a British Triathlon report with more information and even a comment on my sprint finish, possibly the first ever!
In addition to my GB elite appearances this year I am also racing for the Envy-Epinay team in the French Grand Prix series. This is a series of 5 races for elite duathletes from April to October based around Paris. The standard is high with some very experienced cyclists. Selection criteria for the GB Elite Duathlon team take into account the results in the French Grand Prix Series so participation is not only expected but good results are important.
My first race, as with the GB Elite European Championships,, highlighted tactical cycle racing as a weakness for me. I ran well but finished 55th after being dropped on the cycle leg.
The second race went much better and I was in the lead cycle group in the last mile.
Unfortunately two riders in front touched wheels and brought a few of us down. I finished 24th but would have been hopeful of a much higher placing without the crash and was pleased to have stayed with the lead cycle group this time. Just a bit of bad luck at the end but a good race.
The third race was a team time trial. We went well on the cycle leg and were 8th as a team, but lost a few places on the final run finishing 12th overall. A good race though with solid performances all round and enjoyable, even in the French rain – again!
The fourth race took place in the rain – again! So although I ran well the bike leg was difficult and we finished well down the field as a team. This will put pressure on for us to avoid relegation this season.
This was a 10km cross country event for the home countries teams of 4 runners each from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition there were teams from Northern Athletics (whom I represented) and the Midlands.
The event was held at Falkirk in Scotland and the course and venue were a pleasure to compete at. I finished 5th in a strong field in a time of 31.54. The Scottish winner’s time was 31.27 and he was followed by England runners coming in at 2nd, 3rd and 4th but I was delighted with my 5th place just in front of the final England counter.
The Oulton Park Spring Duathlon is the first event of the season after a winter of training for everyone so it is a good test of exactly how well that training has gone. The event is also a qualifier for the World Age Group Championships later in 2016 in Spain so competition is fierce, with a total field of 287 athletes of all age groups competing for a coveted GB place.
The weather was a bit grim as we prepared to start. The temperature was just above freezing and there was a snow flurry as we warmed up. But by the time the starting gun fired it had cheered up, although the bike course was a bit wet and conditions were cold.
This was a drafting cycle event so a new experience and one which I enjoyed. Three of us worked together on the front, keeping the pack at bay for most of the cycle leg.
I managed to hit the front during the second run and give myself a lead, finishing over 30 seconds clear by the end.
So after a while to recover we had the presentation – and the obligatory lager shower to celebrate!
So a great start to the 2016 season and an enjoyable event all round.
The English National Cross Country Championships, once again sponsored by Saucony, were held for the very first time at Donington Park, near East Midlands Airport, on Saturday 27th February, and the Senior Men’s 12k event, which was being held for the 129th occasion, saw Morpeth Harriers win the team title for the second time, and also clinch their third major title inside twelve months.
We had a strong team and were delighted to win and pick up the coveted title of English National Team Cross Country Champions.
Carl was the third man home in the team and finished 16th overall in a very strong field. A good day out.
GB Elite Duathlete and World Age Group Champion 2014, 2015 and 2017